Letter to the Brethren: February 13, 2020

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings once again from the Five Cities region of California.

We have been working on literature, outreach, festival location, and international matters.

Perhaps it also should be mentioned that I did a podcast on Monday with a holistic doctor in Washington related to the coronavirus and may be filmed today as part of a segment for a future secular television program covering physical preparations and options related to the coronavirus.

Valentine’s Day

Throughout the world, February 14th is often celebrated as “Valentine’s Day.” What is the truth about “Saint Valentine’s Day”? Here is a link to a YouTube video on it Should Christians Observe Valentine’s Day?

Notice what a 2008 news item correctly reported about this day:

St. Valentine’s Day — a day to declare your affection for that special someone.

And what did Saint Valentine have to do with love notes and affection? Absolutely nothing! In fact, there’s a good chance he may never have existed. You see, at least according to most accounts, the day was begun by the residents of ancient Rome who wanted to honor the she-wolf that had raised Romulus and Remus. It was Romulus who founded Rome, after killing his brother Remus in a fit of rage. At least that’s the story they’ve been telling over the centuries.

However the Christian church leaders in Rome didn’t like the celebration. Too pagan-like, they said. But, knowing the celebration was too popular for them to end, they gave it some Christian respectability instead. They decided since it coincided with St. Valentine’s feast day they would call it St. Valentine’s Day (Brown P. Origin of Valentine’s Day may surprise us. The Enid News & Eagle, Enid OK, Published: January 16, 2008 12:49 am. http://www.enidnews.com/opinion/local_story_016004906.html viewed 01/17/08).

Yet notice what the improperly named magazine, Christianity Today, reported some time back:

Civilizations have celebrated Valentine’s Day for millennia, but even so, on February 14, we seem ready to celebrate love once again. Here are some articles on the holiday’s Christian history, thoughts on love, and ways to show your Valentine how much you care.

“Civilizations” of the world certainly “have celebrated Valentine’s Day for millennia,” but real Christians have not.

The Apostle John was inspired to write:

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17, NKJV)

Valentine’s Day is a worldly holiday, essentially built upon lust of the eyes and the pride of life. It will pass away, it is not a true Christian holiday.

In 2009, Christianity Today‘s Valentines from Heaven article began with:

How God reminded nine singles of his love for them on Valentine’s Day

Since I’m single, I spent February 14 trying to concentrate on the fact that God is my valentine…(Valentines from Heaven. Christianity Today. http://www.christianitytoday.com/singles/newsletter/responses-valentine.html, viewed 2/12/09)

The above page had an ad that attempted to sell some type of dating service. Would God want to be viewed as a Valentine?

In 2007, Christianity Today‘s History of Valentine’s Day article began with:

St. Valentine was actually two people (that weren’t romantically involved) who were martyred on the same day (c. 270). Feasts commemorating them were celebrated on February 14. One was a priest and physician who died in Rome during the persecution of Christians by Claudius II Grothicus. The other was the bishop at Terni, Italy who was also martyred in Rome. Both have been buried at different places along the Flaminian Way (History of Valentine’s Day. Christianity Today. 1999. http://www.christianitytoday.com/holidays/valentines/features/history.html, January 31, 2004).

The Christianity Today article above never mentioned the pagan origins of the holiday. The closest it comes is by stating:

So why do people send “valentines” or “love-tokens” to one another on that day? The origin of that tradition is not thought to have any connection with the saint’s day. Rather it comes from an early European belief that the second week of February was when birds began to mate. The idea suggests that lovers should probably exchange notes and gifts on February 14 in conjunction with what nature practiced. It then concludes with “Nowadays, Valentine’s Day is observed as a special day for love and romance. This topic is one of the oldest, and probably most-discussed, issues in history! As Christians, we know that love originates from God and that God is love (1 John 4:16).

That is the history of Valentine’s Day? Is that what Christianity Today believes Christians should know about that day? Are the customs associated with Valentine’s Day truly biblical? Or does the Protestant world wish to obscure the truth? Did Christianity Today intentionally leave the whole truth out?

Perhaps.

Here is what its page titled Valentine’s Day stated about it in 2015:

The origins of the modern Valentine’s Day are mostly legend. Legend has it St. Valentine was a priest who died defending marriage under a Roman emperor opposed to the practice. Legend has it the date was set to parallel the beginning of bird mating season. The clearest connection between St. Valentine and the celebration of romantic love surfaces in the Medieval work of Geoffrey Chaucer. In his Pariliament of Foules, Chaucer drafts his own legend: “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / When every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.” http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/topics/v/valentines-day/ viewed 012915

That was ALL the article stated. So, Protestants and others who come to their page will likely conclude that this was mainly a ‘Christian’ holiday. Those who conclude that will be misled.

However, if one looks further, one can find that Christianity Today does have a link to an article that admits the following:

There are more tales of the “origins” of Valentine’s Day than arrows in Cupid’s quiver. As expected, most have something to do with pagan ritual (pretty much every holiday—from Christmas to Mother’s Day—has something to do with pagan ritual). Four centuries before Christ, Romans had a day called Lupercalia. Without going too much into it, I’ll sum it up as a sexual lottery. Pull names out of a box at random and couple with a young member of the opposite sex. After a year, you get to pick another name (Olsen T. Then Again Maybe Don’t Be My Valentine. Christianity Today. February 1, 2000).

So, Valentine’s Day was originally a sexual lottery according to Christianity Today. Yet, despite knowing that much of the truth, Christianity Today still uses/runs one or more articles that promote Valentine’s Day.

This is something that true Christians realize that we should not be celebrating.

Africa Matters

Terry Nelson and his three sons left Tuesday and are scheduled to arrive today in Kenya as part of our evangelical and humanitarian efforts. They are bringing literature and also intending to produce some videos for us.

Evangelist Evans Ochieng Kisiengo

Evangelist Evans Ochieng sent the following schedule related to them as well as an update on other African matters:

Pastor Dr Bob,

Greetings from Kenya.
Since congregations in are so many that we cannot visit each and every congregations within this short period and again move to Malawi, we past a solution of putting together some congregations so that Terry can meet every congregation. And this is how I arranged it. On 14th Feb, we shall be in Bomet and the Mao congregation will join us there. On 15th Feb, we shall be in Chilani and the Motosiet, Kaplecho, and Daktech congregations will come there. On 16th Feb, we shall be in Kisii and all congregations in Kisii will come there at Eberege.  On 17th, we shall be in Nyakach. On 18th, we shall be at Ndhiwa and those of Mbani, Oriang and Kiseke will come to Ndhiwa. On 19th Feb, we shall be at Kihancha. On 20th Feb, we shall be in Migori town and Muhuru and Gribe and 2 families from Macalder with come to Migori. On 21st Feb, we shall travel back to north rift valley where we shall keep Sabbath with our congregations in the North Rift valley and we shall be at Molo. After services we shall travel back to Nairobi and on 23rd we shall board the the plain to Malawi.
Another thing we had a meeting on the 2nd February which was successfully done and plan how we want to carry on with the work in Kenya. The work has expanded in Kenya that needs a teamwork.  So committee was suggested to appoint REGIONAL LEADERS AND THEIR MANDATES. We will have another meeting on 8th March which will appoint departmental heads.
Evans

Please have Nelsons and all in Africa in your prayers.

Feast of Tabernacles in the USA

As mentioned last week, we contacted representatives of San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Fort Worth–all in Texas. We ended up not getting the responses we had hoped for from Corpus Christi and Fort Worth, so we looked more into San Antonio.

But we still do not have a final agreement.

We expect to have more information next week.

World News Items

African leaders, as well as Hamas, have rejected the Trump Administration’s peace deal of the century (see African leaders and Hamas against Deal of the Century, while Netanyahu plans to officially annex more land). The recommended sermonette for this Sabbath deals with the Trump Administration proposal as well as a few biblical prophecies (watch Trump’s Deal of the Century and Daniel 9 27?).

In the USA, its presidential primary season is now getting in gear with the New Hampshire primary this past Tuesday (see New Hampshire Primary and Amy Klobuchar). No matter who wins, do not expect that they have the answers that the USA or the rest of the world needs. Which is? National repentance and the Kingdom of God.

In the Middle East, Israel’s Defense Minister said that his government was targeting Iranian military targets and no longer just Iranian proxy forces (see ‘Israel Reveals it is Now Targeting Iranian Forces Militarily’). Iran will not like that and appears prophesied to one day cause damage to Jerusalem (Isaiah 22:6-9). Israeli statements and actions look to be hastening that time.

In a different type of military move, the President of the Philippines announced he wants out of a security agreement with the USA (see NPR: Philippines Says It Will End U.S. Security Agreement; COGwriter: An opening for China and the ‘kings from the east’?). This move could signal a small step towards an alliance with China that could ultimately be tied in with Armageddon (Revelation 16:12-16).

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week:

  • 2-3 hymns (our songbook, The Bible Hymnal, contains the materials from the 1974 Bible Hymnal from the old WCG with new covers, plus ten additional hymns; there is also some Choral Accompaniment online).
  • Opening prayer.
  • Sermonette, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Trump’s Deal of the Century and Daniel 9 27? Other sermonettes are available at the Bible News Prophecy channel.
  • Announcements (if any; though for many it will be this letter) and one hymn.
  • Sermon, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Protestant, Baptist, and CCOG History. Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG channel.
  • Final hymn.
  • Closing prayer.

Note: If you have a slow internet connection, you can watch these by starting the video, then below it (and towards the right) look for an outline of a gear–if you click on that, it will allow the YouTube video to be played with lower video quality, but at least it will not stop often–you can select a quality as low as 144p. If your internet connection is still too slow (as my home one is) and/or you prefer audio messages to audio-visuals ones, go to the YouTube link for the message, click on SHOW MORE related to the description. You will then see something that says, “Download MP3.” Below that is a link to an MP3 file. Most computers (and even some cellular telephones) will allow MP3 files to be downloaded and played. This is an option we have made available (but we are also looking into ways to improve that as well)–and, of course, we have written article options. Some people have found that if their internet connections are not fast enough, that they can simply listen to the messages that are found at the Bible News Prophecy online radio channel.

IN CASE YOU DO NOT RECEIVE A ‘LETTER TO THE BRETHREN’ FOR ANY WEEK, REMEMBER THAT THERE ARE MANY SERMON MESSAGES ON THE ContinuingCOG channel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE Bible News Prophecy channel. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel.

Concluding Comments

The Apostle Paul, quoting Psalm 32:1-2, wrote:

7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” (Romans 4:7-8)

Here is some of what comes after that in Psalm 32 as well as something related that the Apostle John wrote:

5 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.
Selah

6 For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You
In a time when You may be found; (Psalms 32:5-6a)

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)

Brethren, yes we are blessed to have our sins forgiven. And yes, if you pray and acknowledge your sins, God is willing to forgive you. Remember to do so.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer